Power wins the IndyCar crown while Palou wins at Laguna Seca

Australian Will Power won his second career IndyCar driver’s championship with third place on Sunday, while Spaniard Alex Palou won the season-ending Monterey Grand Prix.

Palou pulled away in the final 20 laps, beating US runner-up Josef Newgarden by more than 30 seconds after 95 laps of the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca Raceway in Northern California.

“It’s good to end the season with a win,” said Palou. “We had some power and good fuel consumption. It was a great day. Everything clicked.”

Power, who needed just a podium finish to claim his first points crown of the season since 2014, was third to win the championship hunt over Newgarden 560-544 points while Scott Dixon of New Zealand was third, 39 points behind him.

“It’s been way too long,” Power said. “What a team effort it has been all year. You don’t get years like that very often, so I’m going to take that in.”

Power, 41, won his only race of the season in Detroit but managed eight other podiums.

“It was all about the long game all year. It wasn’t about going for the big wins,” Power said.

Power became the all-time IndyCars pole leader on Saturday with a 68th place finish, breaking the mark he shared with legend Mario Andretti.

– ‘gut feeling’ –

Power fulfilled a preseason prediction made by his wife Liz that he would win the season crown and break Andretti’s record.

“She actually gave me confidence that I could do it, that’s how much trust I have in her gut,” Power said. “She said those words and I just couldn’t believe they were coming true.”

Power struggled with handling and tire grip throughout the race and knew the title was at stake when Newgarden, starting last in a field of 25, made a late attack.

“I just knew that I absolutely had to get the best out of these stints and couldn’t lose any more positions,” said Power. “It was marginal, very loose. What a relief.”

Champion of the 2017 and 2019 seasons, Newgarden was content with a third consecutive second place finish despite a season-best five wins from 17 races.

“We came back. We fought. We almost got there,” Newgarden said. “I’m proud of the effort. We are coming again next year.”

Dixon, who started 13th and finished 12th, missed out on a seventh career IndyCar season title to match AJ Foyt’s all-time record.

“Ultimately we just didn’t have the pace,” said Dixon. “We tried everything we could. It was just frustrating. We couldn’t bring everything we needed today. We will keep going as hard as we can.”

Palou, the 2021 season champion in a legal battle with team owner Chip Ganassi over his 2023 contract status, picked up his fourth career win and hinted he could stay.

“Things are going well. We’ll see,” said Palou. “We’re going to enjoy the moment now and see what happens.”

Power took the lead through the first pit stops, but Palou passed him on lap 27 to take the lead.

The fast-charging Newgarden passed Power on lap 46 at the eighth corner known as the “Corkscrew” for second.

Newgarden made the final pit stop of the leading trio with 21 laps to go and rejoined well behind Palou but ahead of Power and they stayed that way to the end.

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